Does What You Eat Make You Racist?

Now, we learn that even our food choices, and how we discuss what we love to eat, is hate speech.

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For White Americans, trudging through the minefield of what is and isn’t racist can be kind of tricky.  The recent popularity of the phrase “cultural appropriation” makes it even trickier.  Apparently, it’s OK to like another culture, but not to like another culture too much or something.

Now, we learn that even our food choices, and how we discuss what we love to eat, can be racist.

From the National Review:

According to Social Justice Internet, it’s totally fine to enjoy foods from other cultures — as long as you don’t call the food “authentic,” act like it’s out of the ordinary, or forget to get upset about Islamophobia every time you eat hummus.

Yep. According to “The Feminist Guide to Being a Foodie Without Being Culturally Appropriative,” it’s pretty damned hard for you to eat anything but a cheeseburger without its author, Rachel Kuo, thinking you’re being offensive. Have you ever gone to another country and tried an “authentic” version of that country’s cuisine?

If you said yes, you’re already a racist. According to Kuo, the word “authentic” should never be used when discussing another culture’s food because “seeking ‘authenticity’ fetishizes the sustenance of another culture.”

Yeah, we can’t make this up, folks.

Kuo’s argument is one that ignores that there is a difference between what people in that culture actually eat, and what is served to Americans in restaurants here often aren’t particularly similar.  So, people interested in that culture, particularly the food of that culture, will seek out authentic cuisine.

You see, we thought the sharing of cultures, particularly the food, was one of the coolest things about multiculturalism.  It’s how we got awesome things like tacos and beef with broccoli.  However, fans of these foods often become curious about those other cultures’ food.  What do people in Mexico actually eat?

Well, according to Kuo, you need to keep your dirty American hands to yourself and eat what you’ve been handed.

Or maybe not quite.

You see, Kuo is OK with you eating “authentic” foods, so long as you don’t call them that…and you feel a healthy ration of guilt over how you, personally, have oppressed the poor people so.

From Kuo’s original piece:

When food gets disconnected from the communities and places its from, people can easily start forgetting and ignoring historical and ongoing oppression faced by those communities.

America has corporatized “Middle Eastern food” like hummus and falafel, and some people might live by halal food carts, but not understand or address the ongoing Islamophobia in the US.

Folks might love Mexican food, but not care about different issues such as labor equity and immigration policy that impact members from that community.

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Honestly, there’s a lot of stupid in there.

You see, when we eat, we tend to just want to consume tasty food.  We’re not interested in all the ways that we suck as individuals because reasons.  It’s also total bovine excrement to believe that we should worry about immigration issues just because we’re eating a taco.  To be fair, we also rarely think about the oppressive nature of communism when we’re eating Chinese food, and that’s not our fault.  At least Kuo hasn’t told us how we should feel guilty about it.  Yet, anyway.

Frankly, Kuo’s real issue seems to be based around the way her friends act regarding food, rather than how most people react.  The issue is that her friends are apparently jerks.  They made fun of her food, then giggle as they try it and score points for eating Kuo’s “weird” food or something.

It sounds like Kuo would be better served by spending less time lecturing people on what to enjoy and how to enjoy it, and more time making better friends.

Photo Credit: Jean-Marie Guyon/123rf
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